Probiotics Help Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is in the health records of 50 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association. One is considered to have this disease when he or she has a combination of risk factors that include high HDL-cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and insulin resistance as well as being overweight. Having metabolic syndrome puts one at increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes, heart disease or artery problems.  Given the magnitude of these health problems and how many people are affected, it is striking that new research points to the fact that probiotics may help those with metabolic syndrome.

Research presented at the Keystone Symposium on Diabetes held in Whistler, Canada, in April, indicated that a patented strain (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis 420 [B420], from Danisco, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark) reduces tissue inflammation and improves metabolic syndrome by reducing tissue inflammation and metabolic endotoxemia, “thereby counteracting the adverse effects of high-fat diet.”

The reason why, they said, may be connected to the fact that those with metabolic syndrome often eat a high-fat diet, which can negatively affect intestinal microflora. Diabetic rats given the Bifidobacterium lactis B420 probiotic strain while on a high-fat diet had improved fasting insulin levels and improved insulin response while eating. According to the researchers, “B420 changes intestinal mucosal microbiota and reduces the efflux of LPS [a potent pro-inflammatory molecule] into plasma, thereby reducing inflammation and improving insulin metabolism.” The strain also worked better than other probiotic strains.

The study was conducted by scientists from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Toulouse, France, in collaboration with Danisco Health and Nutrition Research Centre in Kantvik, Finland. Danisco plans to continue investigating the effects probiotics may have on reducing metabolic syndrome.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2010